November 15, 2010

On the Side: Part Two

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Margaret's Morsels | Southern Cranberry Salad


Last week, I wrote about a Thanksgiving side that appears on my table some years, but not others.  As promised, today I'm going to write about the Thanksgiving side dish that, like the proverbial Christmas fruitcake, gets no respect at all, but is practically obligatory on the Thanksgiving table.  It's the side dish you either love or hate.  For most of my life I hated it.  You've probably guessed I'm talking about cranberries.

Why have cranberries become the brunt of so many jokes?  Probably because we've encountered them combined with a multitude of ingredients that do nothing to enhance the flavor of the cranberries.  

Each Thanksgiving, my mother made a congealed cranberry salad with cherry gelatin, fresh cranberries, celery, nuts and several kinds of fruit.  I hated it as a child and I hate it as an adult.  At the other end of the spectrum, my mother-in-law always served canned jellied cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving.  I didn't like it any better than I did my mother's cranberry salad concoction.

A couple of years ago, I found a recipe for Southern Cranberry Salad.  The recipe sounded delicious so I decided to make it for Easter.  My in-laws loved it and, surprisingly, so did I.  Seeming overnight, I became a cranberry convert.

Margaret's Morsels | Southern Cranberry Salad
This is not my mother's cranberry salad!


The adage less is more is certainly true with this recipe.  It only uses five ingredients, but they compliment each other and produce an extremely tasty salad.  Unlike my mother's recipe that used fresh cranberries, this recipe uses a can of whole berry cranberry sauce.  This means I can make the salad year round and not just October through December when fresh cranberries are in season.  This is a good thing because it's a wonderful accompaniment to an Easter ham.


Margaret's Morsels | Southern Cranberry Salad




I always use sugar-free gelatin and this recipe is no exception. Cranberries are tart so, if you want the salad to be a little sweeter, you might opt to use a package of regular gelatin instead.  Although the recipe calls for cherry gelatin, you could substitute another red gelatin if you prefer.  I think the salad would be delicious with cranberry gelatin.


This salad is an easy holiday dish because it can be made ahead of time. Sometimes I use a jello mold; other times, I put the salad in a Corning Ware casserole dish.  If I'm not unmolding the salad, I don't bother greasing the dish.  If I'm molding the salad, I follow the tips mentioned here.


Margaret's Morsels | Southern Cranberry Salad



Now that I know cranberries are delicious with the right combination of ingredients, I'm looking for new cranberry recipes.  The in-laws don't know it yet, but I'm trying a new cranberry relish recipe this year for Thanksgiving.  I hope they like it as much as they do the Southern Cranberry Salad.


Southern Cranberry Salad
8 Servings

1 (3 oz.) pkg. cherry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 (16 oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce
2 (11 oz.) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained

Bring water to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the cherry gelatin.  Stir the gelatin until it is completely dissolved.  Add the remaining ingredients; blend well.  Pour mixture into a greased 4-cup jello mold or a 2-quart dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Refrigerate leftovers.


© Margaret's Morsels

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